STILL, NOT EVERY BOARD MEMBER WAS COMPLETELY CERTAIN THAT THOMAS WAS A LIAR
Surprisingly, perhaps, the student was able to throw enough doubt into the air that some board members were less than certain about what occurred. As the report notes, “Some members of the board are convinced that Mr. Thomas altered the date on his computer and back-dated the email message to Sandra Mays in an effort to deceive the board. Other members believe that although it is more probable that Mr. Thomas altered the date than that it happened because of some unknown computer operation or failure, there is insufficient evidence so to conclude with certainty.”
Aided by the forensic computer firm’s examination of Thomas’s Sony notebook, the board said it found that Thomas’s manner “did not lend credence to his account. Some members of the board found him to be evasive and not forthcoming. The board was impressed also by the cumulation of improbably occurrences in his account which made it more difficult to accept his explanation of individual events.” It didn’t help that Thomas’s own lawyers sent his computer to several computer experts, hoping to disprove the board’s belief that their client was engaged in covering his tracks. In its report, the board noted that one expert who was expected to testify on Thomas’s behalf didn’t because “he did not feel that he was in a position to authenticate Mathew’s version of the events.”
The report’s bottom line? “Most members of the board have considerable problems with Mr. Thomas’s account. They find it difficult to believe that, having, as he says, given time and attention to the alteration of the transcript in order to satisfy his parents expectations and having observed their ‘ecstatic’ reaction, just a few days later he would have so completely changed his attitude that he revealed both that his grades were less good than they had appeared and that he had prepared a false transcript to deceive them. They find it difficult to believe that, having revealed his deception, he would have been so casual about the altered transcript and have left it visible on his desk where his brother would find it. They find it difficult to believe that, having the intention seriously to apply for a judicial clerkship and having prepared the materials for his application with care, he would have left the duplication and assembly of the materials for each judge entirely to big younger brother. They find it difficult to believe that he would have put all the materials for his application in plain view in one place and have put the real transcript alone inside his file cabinet.”
Ultimately, the board would recommend that the faculty kick Thomas out of Harvard Law School. It found that Thomas falsified his transcript, interviewed with judges under false pretenses, and gave untruthful answers to questions of administrators at the law school. It didn’t take much longer for Thomas to get the boot.
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